A Kinematic and Electromyographic Analysis of the “High Knees” and “Butt Kicks” Running Form Drills Compared to Running at an 8 Minute Mile Pace

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2012


The purpose of this study was to perform a kinematic and electromyographical analysis of two common running form drills compared to running at an 8 minute mile training pace. Eight female collegiate track runners (average age, height, and weight of 21.2 years, 65.4in, and 125.9lb, respectively) participated in this study. Subjects performed the running portion and the “high knees” and “butt kicks” running form drills on a Life Fitness 95T treadmill. Video recordings were obtained using a Sony HDR-HC9 camcorder and analyzed using Dartfish 5.5 Pro-Suite software. Muscle activity was measured using a standard non-invasive electromyographic (EMG) system (BIOPAC Systems, Inc.). Surface electrodes were placed on the left rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris long head, and gastrocnemius during each exercise. Results showed that subjects spent a similar percentage of time in the both the stance (33-35%) and swing (65-68%) phases per gait cycle across all three movements. Compared to running, both hip and knee range of motion (ROM) increased by 41% during the “high knees” and “butt kicks,” respectively. Because of variations in how each subject performed the running form drills, no consistent EMG pattern emerged for direct comparison across the runners. Based on the kinematic findings in this study, and in particular the similar timing of both the stance and swing phases of each gait cycle across exercises, these data help support the inclusion of form drills in training programs for runners looking to enhance running form.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


Stuart Rugg




Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Grant

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